By Halimatou Ceesay
Community-based distributors of family planning commodities on Sunday appealed to United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to fund their activities and also help them with means of transportation to meet more people in the surrounding villages.
They made this appeal during the start of a week-long media field visit by UNFPA The Gambia Country office in partnership with the Network of Journalist on Reproductive Health, Population and Development (NJORPAD).
The aim of the trip was to visit UNFPA project sites, women groups and initiatives, youth projects, Family Planning community-based distributors, ex-circumcisers among other partners that they are supporting through their country program in the Gambia to see their work and also possible challenges they are faced with.
Noel Sambou, a community-based distributor (CBD) of Family Planning (FP) commodities said the work is very difficult in the rural areas because whenever the men hear about family planning, they have a notion that it is preventing women from giving birth and to change their perception about it is a problem.
“We are trying our best to sensitize them about FP. We have the injection, condoms and family planning pills. Our main constraint as CBD is lack of salary and transport to enable us to do our work effectively. I was given a bicycle by family planning for the distribution at various communities but that was long time ago”, she said.
According to Madam Sambou, she is a retired nurse with over 15 years experience and has been a CBD since 1990. She said it is only few men that come with their wife for the FP commodities, but usually it is the women that come for the commodities and services.
When asked whether they have a youth friendly services for the young people, Madam Sambou responded that they have a group of young men that she usually gives some FP commodities to for distribution at the community. She added that she also takes some of the FP commodities to the police station as well because they are also vulnerable.
“I usually test the women to see whether they are Hypertension patients because I don’t give hypertension patients the services and I also weigh them, examine their breasts and stomach to ascertain whether they are pregnant or not because, some of the women will breastfeed their child until they wean them, then they will wait until they miss their menstruation for one month and then they will come to me for the FP services and when they noticed that they are pregnant, they will blame family planning for betraying them”, she said.
Modou Touray, a community-based distributor of FP commodities (CBD) at Kassange Village in the Foni Bintang District of West Coast Region, said the turnout for women for the FP services is impressive and some of the men are very supportive and they allow their wives to use it.
Mr. Touray said he has over four years experience as a CBD. He said they do have sensitization programs on the importance of family planning in the village.
“To make our work very easy, I am appealing to UNFPA to provide us with a transportation to enable us distribute the FP commodities to the people and also to allocate funds for us,”,he said.